Sera was holding on as tightly as she could but the harness swayed in rhythm to the canyon walls shaking with the quake. Using every muscle, and some she’d forgotten, Sera pulled one hand away. Straining, she reached up to catch the leather strap that snaked down to whip around the length of her precariously dangling body . . . only to feel her hand captured by a very large, very warm, very unexpected grasp.
Looking up, Sera registered only green eyes and a flash of white teeth before he straightened suddenly, effortlessly. Her slender form catapulted up and over to sprawl on the dusty shelf of rock next to a man. And, oh what a man . . . acres of sculpted muscle wrapped around the largest specimen of the human male that she’d ever seen. Forgetting that the ground trembled beneath her, she scrabbled to her knees and Sera’s eyes stroked up his leather-clad legs and naked chest to catalogue this particular specimen - tall, dark, and handsome, the classic romantic lead – probably a soccer player with those thighs. Her eyes widened and her breath caught her heart’s rhythm when the beautiful planes of his chiseled features lost primacy to the force of his gaze. His eyes . . . green, green, eyes, her mind repeated stupidly . . . took possession of her own.
“Who? . . You . . .” Sera whispered, entirely dispensing with the concept of a sentence or civilized greeting.
“Who am I?” he offered helpfully, lazy amusement in his low, rough voice. Even with the ebony hair whipping around his face, the predator’s grin and arched dark brow signaled clear intent and Sera’s pulse thrummed its own primitive response. He leaned forward.
The rasping of something alive, possibly threatening, but definitely unknown pulled Sera from her dream. Holding very still, she surveyed her surroundings. Sera lay prone on a stone floor of some type. A cavern? Walls glimpsed through shuttered lashes appeared coarse and uneven as though naturally carved. Not wanting to communicate consciousness to whatever animal pulled its claws along the stone; Sera scanned what she could of the room. No one there . . . crap, it’s behind me . . . She hated not knowing what was at her back. Ugh, I have the mother of all headaches. A slow, deep breath offered the only hint of her wakened state and intentions; Sera tensed to her feet in one graceful motion and reached behind her for . . . "My knife? Crimeny damn, hell! . . ."
She spun to see a dainty figure seemingly relaxed in a graceful recline on a stone bench. The woman drew long nails across the roughened surface of the backing to the bench, while contemplating Sera with a thoughtful, warm smile. Not feeling quite so friendly, Sera snarled, “who are you and where am I?” Not pausing for a response, she snapped, “where is Nina?”
GAIL: Thank you for letting us critique this excerpt. I admit I was a little confused the first time I read this. I wasn't sure whether she was really dreaming or not. But I blame that on the fact that this is an excerpt. If I read this in context, it would probably make perfect sense.
Even in this little snippet, I can see that you have lots of action, a spunky heroine, a challenging setting, and an interesting secondary character. You do a fine job with the hero's description and her reaction to him. You do have a tendency to overuse the ellipsis. The paragraphing was off in the copy I got, which is probably a problem of transmission. You'll want to make sure that your paragraphs are not overly long on the original.
All in all, a nice effort. Good luck on the road to publication and I hope you will post here again.
HEATHER: An interesting beginning. You paint a great picture of Sera's precarious situation, but I found myself a little lost at the point she's pulled up. Does she land belly-up or belly-down? Consider revising your description of how she lands for clarity. Best of luck.
JERRICA: I really loved this excerpt. Your prose is great! I especially loved "her breath caught her heart’s rhythm" - what a beautiful description. I'm not going to judge on content - it's always confusing to jump into something in the middle - but I would say to go back through for grammatical issues. Your first semi-colon should actually just be a comma. And there were missing commas throughout. But those are minor issues and don't at all affect my enjoyment of your voice, which is the most important thing. Well done and thanks for submitting!
AMY: At first I thought this was a historical western, not sure why. Once I read soccer I knew we were in the present - lol. Great description of the hero and her reaction. I thought it odd that they were able to do the things they did during an earthquake. Would the hero be able to pull her to safety without losing his footing with all the shaking going on? Also, she is on her knees and then she lay prone on the ground. I wondered when did she lie down and then she heard the sound behind her and I think she was back to sitting again. Of course, these questions may be easily answered if I had the entire chapter or story. I enjoyed this and your voice. Good luck and I hope to see more submissions.
CATHERINE: You've got me hooked with the action and danger you present here. However, as mentioned by both Gail and Jerrica, there are punctuation problems throughout, primarily with commas, semi-colons, and overuse (and improper use) of the ellipsis. Those things can be easily fixed, though. I was confused as to why the man who pulled her up to safety would be a predator. Everything before the phrase "predator's grin" pointed to him being anything but a predator. Other than those minor things, I really enjoyed this passage.
SAMANTHA: I too was a little confused when she was suddenly lying on her back in the cavern, but it seems like she had a vision of the hero. Is this a fantasy novel? I love your way of wording things, such as "Sera's pulse thrummed its own primitive response." And I'm intrigued. I want to know who this woman is and why she has nails that sound like claws. Nice work. Thank you for sharing it with us.
JULIE: You have some very nice descriptions here. I really like her initial of the man and how you descrivbe him. The action is great and the danger is obvious and keeps an adrenaline junkie like me definitley wanting to read more. I was confused when she ended up on her back in a caveren. I think you need some sort of transtion sentence here to put the reader in context.